Tuesday, 18 October 2011

YOU KNOW YOUR DAD IS A CHEAPSKATE WHEN....

When children of middle income families apply for welfare because their parents are too stingy to give them enough to live on, it's disgraceful. Though the Bible does teach that we should honour our parents, it also says that a person who doesn't care for his own is worse than an infidel. At the risk of dishonouring my father, here's why I ended up on the dole.

In October of 1974, I visited the Alberta Social Services office. The woman who interviewed me that afternoon began by asking why I was applying for Social Assistance. I explained that I attended a high school in edmonton that had special counsellors. They were tasked with helping visually-impaired students by reading assignments onto tape and assisting them in filling out test papers. My parents lived in Fort Saskatchewan, twenty miles north of the city. Due to the rapid rise of inflation the previous year, my allowance from my father barely paid the rent or bought enough food to fill me.

I gave her my address but when she asked for my phone number, I admitted that I couldn't afford one. After she sent another woman to visit my tiny furnished room to ensure that I was telling the truth, she gave me food vouchers and a cheque for the next month's rent.

I felt humiliated the first time I purchased groceries with a voucher. People behind me sighed and shuffled their feet impatiently as the cashier filled out the form and had me sign it. In spite of that humiliation, I finally had enough food to satisfy my teenage apatite.

Once I cashed the cheque, I set about to make my life easier. I had a telephone installed, bought an orange cardigan, and began buying fresh produce rather than the cheapest items in the store. No longer did I have to buy mint jelly because it was twenty cents cheaper than a jar of jam. Meat became a regular part of my diet. I could even afford the occasional block of cheese. Though I was dependent on the government, having money for the good things in life cheered me greatly.

In my Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) and my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoirs, I mentioned my penury during those high school years. In upcoming blog posts, I'll be writing about topics that I could only hint at due to space limitations in those paperbacks. Read more about these compelling memoirs here. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about my books.